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NISCSS held South China Sea-themed sub-forum at Boao

2016-03-29 22:33:52       source:NISCSS

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On 25 March 2016, the NISCSS successfully held the sub-forum of "The South China Sea: Maritime Cooperation and Confidence Building Measures" as part of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference 2016. More than 100 scholars and experts from over ten countries and regions had in-depth discussion around maritime confidence building, maritime cooperation and other topics. 

 

Mr. Liu Zhenmin, vice minister of Chinese Foreign Ministry, delivered a keynote speech entitled "China remains committed to peaceful settlement of disputes in the South China Sea through  negotiations and consultations". As Mr. Liu pointed out, China has a big stake in peace and stability in the South China Sea, which is also the shared interest of all coastal states and countries that rely on the shipping lanes there. The key to overcoming difficulties has always been in the hands of regional countries, that is, to settle disputes through negotiations and consultations between countries directly concerned. To peacefully resolve disputes through negotiations and consultations is the best way to reflect a country’s own will and ensure sovereign equality between the parties concerned. It also practices the basic norms of international law and international relations and honors the stern commitment made by China and ASEAN countries in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC).

 

The open session of the sub-forum was chaired by Wu Jianmin, member of the Foreign Policy Advisory Group of Chinese Foreign Ministry and former Chinese ambassador to France. Speakers included NISCSS President Wu Shicun as well as Jusuf Wanandi, co-founder of the Board of Trustees of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Indonesia, Michael Swaine, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Tan Sri Rastam Mohd Isa, chairman of Institute of Strategic and International Studies, Malaysia, Sam Bateman, professorial research fellow at Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security, University of Wollongong, and Zheng Yongnian, director of the East Asian Institute at National University of Singapore.

 

The participants of the sub-forum agreed that the South China Sea situation has experienced complicated and profound changes in recent years and that it is becoming ever more challenging to maintain regional peace and stability. All relevant parties need to further improve mutual confidence and develop crisis management mechanism. Participants put forward lots of constructive suggestions in such respects.

 

As NISCSS President Wu pointed out, all relevant parties of the South China Sea should fully respect the historical facts and international law, conduct more extensive cooperation and strengthen maritime confidence. He put forward the suggestions that firstly, China and ASEAN countries should push forward and expand cooperation along one river (Lancang-Mekong River) and in one sea (South China Sea); Secondly, China and ASEAN countries should make full use of the China-Southeast Asia Research Center on the South China Sea and the China-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation Fund to provide intellectual and financial support for further cooperation; Thirdly, China and ASEAN should coordinate to promote the implementation of the DOC and the consultation process of the COC in order to institutionalize the management of South China Sea disputes; Fourthly, non-claimants must refrain from interfering with the South China Sea in order to create a good external environment for the smooth implementation of the dual-track approach.

 

The South China Sea-themed sub-forum has been successfully held for three consecutive years during the BFA annual conference. The theme in 2014 and in 2015 were "South China Sea: Seeking Win-Win and Cooperation" and "South China Sea: Dual-Track Approach and Win-win Cooperation" respectively. This sub-forum is designed as a high-level multilateral platform for international scholars in maritime studies to share wisdom, build confidence, and develop consensus for the maintenance of peace and stability in the South China Sea.